“Someone asked me the other day ‘Aren’t you tired of playing Ash?’ But I’m just getting started!” Bruce Campbell declares.
What a guy. After first appearing as Ash Williams in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead film in 1981, he shows no signs of winding down the character 35 years later.
Currently appearing in the second season of spin-off series Ash vs Evil Dead, he sees plenty of scope for character development, thanks to the depth of the medium.
“In television Ash gets to speak. Evil Dead 2 I shot for weeks at a time without saying any dialogue,” he recalls.
“But in this case it’s a really great chance to flesh him out, and you have to for television. But the beauty is you get to sit down with people and have little side conversations. You see him in all these different scenarios and situations. Now because you’re telling a bigger story Ash has to be a hero, he has to be a leader. He makes really bad mistakes and causes people to die –but he’s our guy.
“I just like how flawed he is.”
“I just like how flawed he is. I’d rather watch a story about a garage mechanic than a superhero. I can’t relate to the guy in spandex.
“I want to be able to relate to something.”
Joining him in the NZ-filmed series are Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo. The second season of the horror series sees Ash leaving his beloved Jacksonville and returning to his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan. There, he confronts Ruby (Lawless) while former enemies have to form an uneasy alliance as Elk Grove soon becomes the nucleus of evil.
Also appearing in season 2 is original Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors as Ash’s father.
“That was pretty sweet casting I have to say. We wanted that bad,” Campbell explains.
“He doesn’t do horror, so I give him a lot of credit. This is a guy who has been doing family friendly stuff for decades in very popular shows.
“But to his credit he said ‘Let me watch the first season’ and he laughed his ass off.
“It was a blast to have him. And who knows, never say never about characters coming and going? Maybe we can keep him around.”
“There isn’t much of a comedy-horror genre”
With its tongue planed firmly in its bloodied cheek, Ash vs Evil Dead has been praised for keeping the comedy-horror genre alive.
“There isn’t much of a comedy-horror genre,” Campbell suggests. “I think we’ve got it mostly sewn up. The Walking Dead is not a real laugh riot. Other shows like American Horror Story are not very funny either. So we’ve just continued to celebrate that genre, but I don’t know who is interested in following after us. It’s a funky genre. It’s splat-stick.
“But I hope we make it easier for that genre to continue to thrive. The Walking Dead has done a great service to the horror genre and brought it literally out of the shadows.”
The show certainly has its devotees, with Campbell a regular on the fan convention-circuit.
“My first convention was 88 and I’ve been doing them ever since. Every year is different but I probably do 3 to 4 a year, anyway. When I do these promotional things, San Diego Comic Con, Europe Comic Con, they don’t let you make any money. I’m just there for PR.
“But it’s fine. I go for social interaction and to put money in the coffers. No mystery there,” he insists.
“A couple of key things have changed at conventions. It used to be Adam West. A guy who was on a show 30 years ago, and his sidekick. And they’re still there. God bless Adam West, he’s still ticking. I love that guy. He’s 85!
“Those guys were my idols.
“But now they bring in current guys who are on the air right now, because they know they are relevant right now.”
“People don’t usually stand in line for shows like Burn Notice.”
Despite a formidable CV including Burn Notice, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Majestic, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Librarians and Fargo, it’s Ash Williams the fans come to see.
“People don’t usually stand in line for shows like Burn Notice. They stand in line for shows that are ‘culty’ and Evil Dead is very ‘culty.’”
In Season 2, Campbell says Ash has to make good and clean up his town, despite the fact they don’t really want him back.
“He’s the ‘Ashy-Slashy,’ the urban myth, the broomstick butcher with the chainsaw hand who killed innocent kids 35 years ago,” he says.
“So he has baggage. He has to save a town that doesn’t really want him. They feel like they’d be better off without him.
“You go into his bedroom. You never really saw where Ash came from, so I love this. And there will be some Easter eggs coming up too –call backs to some older characters.
“His goal this season is really to clean up his town and try and have a normal life. So good luck with that!”
Ash vs Evil Dead is currently screening on Stan.